Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Business Studies in CIT
Zipit! is a revolutionary redesign of the conventional zipper. The ability to close a zip is a task many take for granted, however there are those who struggle. Children, elderly people, those with physical and intellectual disabilities and outdoor enthusiasts can all have difficulties closing a zip. This product makes closing a zip accessible to these people again. It was initially developed to assist children with intellectual disabilities. A member of the group worked closely with children with intellectual disabilities through CoAction summer camps in West Cork, and it was recognised how difficult closing a zip can be.
Although it is a seemingly simple task, closing a zip is not accessible to everyone in society. Children, the elderly, those with intellectual and physical disabilities (such as arthritis, Dyspraxia, Parkinson's Disease, etc.) all can encounter difficulties when closing zips. Further to this, outdoor enthusiasts have expressed a desire for a better performing zip, as cold weather and bulky gloves can reduce fine motor skills which are required for closing a zip.
To close a zip, a certain level of fine motor skill is required and unfortunately, this is not something everyone possesses. The term ‘fine motor skill’ refers to the movements made in the hands and forearms. Fine motor skills let people perform crucial tasks like reaching and grasping, tasks that are often taken for granted. With this knowledge of fine motor skills, it became apparent that those who do not possess such capabilities, have difficulties with such tasks as the closing of a zip. The main reason for this difficulty comes down to a precision grip which allows for the grasping and closing of a zip. This is known as the ‘pincer grip’.
Through conversations with occupational therapists, physiotherapists and our own experience, we have developed a zip which will be easier to use as it requires fewer fine motor skills.
By taking the original concept of a zip, we redesigned the slider to make it more accessible to everyone in society. Market research revealed that the toughest part of closing a zip is the initial insertion of the insertion pin into the bottom box. To eliminate this difficulty, we designed a ‘push and lock’ method, where the box is pushed together and using a tab on the front, locked in place.
The locking mechanism consists of a rotating barrel and two sprung clips. Gently pressing together the two halves causes the two sprung pins to retract. As the two halves close together, the pins extend out under spring loading, securing the zip in a closed position. The zipper halves are released when the rider reaches the bottom of the zip by rotating the zip tab clockwise in a natural sweeping motion.
The split zip design significantly reduces the number of actions required by the user to close the zip, the user must simply “Catch it, clip it, zip it!”. Benefits of this design are easier and faster closing of the zip, reduced axes of movement and restoration of independence to the user. A significantly lower level of fine motor skill is required to use the zip as grasping motions are required instead of pincer grips.
Principle 1: Equitable Use
Zipit! was designed to simplify the method of fastening a zip for all users, this is achieved by reducing the axis of motion required to close a zip. Zippers are a stalemate in many garments in todays society, as such Zipit! is applicable to a diverse audience. Zipit! was designed to satisfy I.S. EN16732 category D. This allows Zipit! to be applied to items ranging from light clothing to heavy outdoor wear such as ski jackets. Zipit!’s mechanism simplifies the fastening of a zip for all users.
Principle 2: Flexibility in Use
By reducing the number of tasks required to close a zip, Zipit! is more flexible to users’ abilities than the conventional zip. The simple Catch It, Clip It, Zip it mechanisms reduces the motions and forces required to fasten a zip. The design doesn’t favour a right or left-handed user as the design is based around limiting the use of precision grips and the design can be closed using one hand also.
Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use
The mechanism for Zipit! uses three actions to close a zip, Catch it, Clip it, Zip it. The user catches both ends of the mechanism, simply clipping the interlocking halves together and pulling up in the pulley to close the zip. This removes the need for the user to align the pin above the slider and insert the pin, as such the three steps are both simple and intuitive. The increased interlocking area requires less concentration and fine motor skills.
Principle 4: Perceptible Information
To ensure the user has clipped the two halves together, the design uses both visual and aural methods of informing the user they have successfully clipped the mechanism together. The visual method stems from the shape of both halves, one half has a semi-circular protrusion while the other has a semi-circular depression, this visually aids the user in connecting both halves. When the halves are connected correctly a clicking sound is heard as the pins interlock with the approaching half.
Principle 5: Tolerance for Error
Zipit! has a curved design to remove sharp edges, the closing mechanism is encased within the shell away from the user, to remove the risk of pinching of skin. Also, the two halves cannot be closed if any object is between the two halves due to the placement of the locking mechanism and the solid finish on the interlocking side of Zipit!
Principle 6: Low Physical Effort
The fastening of a zip is a low effort activity and by reducing the actions required of the user to fasten a zip, Zipit! further reduces the effort required for all users.
Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use
Zipit! is slightly larger than standard zips allowing for easier handling. The tolerance for variability of approach when closing the mechanism is further increases as the semi-circular design guides the user when clipping the two halves together.